Scouts Australia kicked off International Year of the Reef with an adventure on the Great Barrier Reef, contributing to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s scientific understanding at the same time.
Eighteen 15 to 18-year-old national Venturer Scouts from across Australia were trained by the Marine Park Authority to do in-water reef health surveys and flexed their new knowledge by snorkelling and diving off Gladstone.
Under code name of ‘Get Dory,’ the Venturers surveyed the reef off Heron Island, while based at the University of Queensland’s research station.
The results of the scientific surveys were provided to the Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring program, which enables any Reef visitors to collect and record valuable information about Reef health and marine animals.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Assistant Director Tourism and Education Fiona Merida encouraged all scouts and other youth community groups to get involved with the Rapid Monitoring Eye on the Reef program.
“The Great Barrier Reef is bigger than Italy and we rely on information from trained volunteers to help provide a picture of what’s happening in different parts of this vast area,” she said.
“It’s great to see Scouts getting out into the marine environment and providing us with their findings and observations.
“You can only learn so much from a textbook — experiencing the Reef for yourself is an educational experience like no other.
“Trips to the Reef in my youth inspired me to become a marine biologist. It’s an underwater wonderland and it can spark a lifelong love affair with science.”
The group covered a total of 480 square-metres over five days. They counted key species, including the grazing herbivore ‘Dory’, and completed a thorough visual assessment of coral cover and impacts in the area.
Scouts Australia Expedition leader John Pring was pleased the Venturers were able to contribute to real science as part of their Reef outing.
“The scouts were trained in the Eye on Reef Rapid Monitoring program and able to upload the data they collected to an established, scientific program — that kind of experience and sense of achievement is truly valuable to the youths involved,” he said.
Initial analysis of the data supplied by the Scouts Australia group is positive. Healthy reefs with good coral cover and vibrant wildlife were catalogued during their visit.
Find further information about training for the Rapid Monitoring Survey at www.gbrmpa.gov.au
Photos of the Scouts Australia trip can be downloaded here.